I woke up about 3.30am and heard a crackling noise but instantly fell back to sleep. I kept waking up over the next 15 minutes to the same noise but never properly woke up, always falling back half a sleep. After about the 5th time of semi-waking up I thought “what the hell is that crackling noise”. It wasn’t like anything I had heard before. I lay in bed eliminating my options – “it doesn’t sound like rain, or wind, or people or animals.” Within 30 seconds, after not managing to figure out what the noise was, I knelt up on my bed to look out of the window. And there I saw it. A massive fire. I wasn’t sure if it was in the house or right next to the side of it but in an instant, I ran out of my room and went to my mum and dad’s bedroom.
“Quick! We’ve got to get out!” I shouted, “there’s a fire!” They both shot up. “Where?” They asked. “Outside or in the spare bedroom” I replied “but quickly! We’ve got to get out!” You could see the billowing flames from my mum’s bedroom window. Within seconds we were all running down the stairs, escaping the house which we all thought was imminently going to burn down.
As we got outside we could see the 6 huge evergreen trees inches from the side of the house in a mass of fire. Pillows of bright orange flames blew into the night sky. Flames 10m tall soared upwards. I had grabbed my mobile on the way out and my mum rang the fire brigade, screaming at them to hurry, the house so close to catching alight and burning down. I was terrified. As a child, I had planned for this moment, for what I would do if the house caught fire. All of that went out the window. It didn’t even feel like I was thinking. I was moving and doing things, but I wasn’t thinking. I was operating on panic. The flight response had taken over my body. I ran back into the hallway to grab my car-keys. My car was sat just a few metres from the fire and fearing the fire spreading to the car and causing a potential explosion, I quickly moved my car right to the end of the road, my parents doing the same with their cars.
|What was left of our evergreens after the fire
I sprinted back down the road and stood and looked at the towering inferno, helpless. There was nothing I, my parents, or any of the neighbours could do other than stand at watch. I was terrified that any second a flame would catch the house and I would see what had been my home for 25 years burn to the ground. It took over 20 minutes for the fire brigade to arrive and it was 20 minutes of hell and terror. On arrival they immediately got the massive hoses out and tried to put the fire out. Eventually, when the fire started to die down, my fears for the house burning down started to die down with it. But I was really shaken up.
It took a good 30 minutes for them to put the fire out and then they had to check the house was safe for us to go back in. When we finally got back inside at about 5.45am we went back to our bedrooms. I stood in my bedroom, frozen. I couldn’t move. All I could see was the image of the fire burning away. During my time in hospital I suffered severe panic attacks and at that moment, as I stood in my bedroom, I could feel that same feeling of panic surge over my body that used to happen before an attack started. I tried to calm myself down and thankfully, I have learnt the skills to be able to do this.
After standing stationary for about 20 minutes I made my way over to my bed, only to end up staring out of the window to where I had originally spotted the fire. I started to panic that the fire somehow had got into the house somewhere and was slowly spreading. So I went downstairs to check everywhere. The house was all ok. But I wasn’t. I stayed downstairs from then on and slowly, as time passed by, my state of shock started to slightly reduce.
I have never been so scared in all of my life and even 4 days later, I still find myself slightly panicky, and having flashbacks and nightmares. This blog is not about anorexia or my recovery, but I have written it to try and highlight to myself, and others, how precious life is. So in the words of Ronan Keating: Tell that someone that you love, just what you’re thinking of, if tomorrow never comes.